The race for control of the U.S. Senate could go into overtime due to a quirky Georgia election law.
Georgia is the only state that requires candidates to receive a full majority of the vote to avoid a runoff. For many years, with Georgia as a reliably Republican state, this was not an issue; the GOP regularly cleared the hurdle.
But in 2020, as Georgia became the closest state in the presidential election, both its regular Senate race and a concurrent special election prompted by the resignation of Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson went to runoffs, with the two percent of the vote for a Libertarian preventing an outright winner in one of the contests.
For the next two months, all eyes were on the Peach State. Election Night had left the Senate standing at 50-48, and a Democratic sweep in Georgia — something that would have seemed impossible just a few years ago — would bring in a 50-50 Senate with a Democratic leadership due to the constitutional authority of new Vice President Kamala Harris as tiebreaker.
That, of course, is exactly what happened.
This year, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, elected to finish the last two years of Isakson’s term, is seeking a full six-year term. He faces Donald Trump-endorsed Republican Herschel Walker, and the race is one of the closest in the country. A third-party candidate is polling at around four percent.
So it’s entirely possible Election Night will end with one party holding 50 Senate seats, the other 49, and a 49%-48% result in Georgia could again leave the Senate — and the nation — hanging until January.